Monday, September 17, 2012


Latest Newspaper Column:

Well, it looks as if in the Battle of the Conventions a couple of weeks ago, the Democrats came out on top. The Republicans got a weak-to-nonexistent “bounce” in the polls, and Barack Obama surged ahead.
One way you can tell that the Democrats took that round is the way the Romney campaign is trying to pretend that conventions and post-convention “bounces” just don’t matter.
Romney pollster Neil Newhouse sent out a memo that reminds one of that Kevin Bacon character from “Animal House” screaming, “Remain calm! All is well!” before the panicked crowd runs him over and literally stomps him flat.
“While some voters will feel a bit of a sugar high from the conventions,” Newhouse said, “the basic structure of the race has not changed significantly.”
Well, Neil, if you mean the structure where Barack Obama has been leading for months in enough states to give him more than the 270 votes he needs to win the Electoral College, then I guess you’re right.
But that doesn’t really help you. And it doesn’t explain why your campaign is pulling ad buys in crucial high-electoral-vote states like Pennsylvania and Michigan. It also leaves out the significant gains President Obama has made in the crucial swing state of Ohio.
It doesn’t explain why Mr. Etch A Sketch suddenly backpedaled on the bill the right loves to hate (the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare) by saying, “Well, I am going to keep some parts that people like.” Then he had to backpedal yet again when the Rabid Right went back into its customary full-blown tantrum mode.
Remember, the Republicans are the party that’s “not letting fact-checkers determine their campaign,” the party that believes that if you just repeat a lie enough times, it doesn’t matter that it’s not true.
And I think they’d really like it to be true that nobody’s affected by conventions, because the image of their convention that’s burned into everyone’s mind is that of a old man stumbling through an argument with a chair.

In contrast, the Democratic convention was forward-looking and upbeat. Again and again, the Democrats took R-Money’s tired old talking point that “Obama can’t run on his record” and stuffed it back in his face like Shaquille O’Neal dunking on a hapless defender.
I confess, when Joe Biden’s speech began, I was holding my breath hoping he wouldn’t say something stupid. But he delivered one of the best lines of the convention, the one that sums up not only why Barack Obama can run on his record, but why he is: “Osama bin Laden is dead, and General Motors is alive.”
Because here’s the thing. In many ways — not all, but many — we really are better off than we were four years ago.
The stock market is up, and corporate profits are at all-time highs. Statistics from the National Association of Realtors show that national sales of existing homes are up about 10 percent from July 2011 to July 2012. Auto sales are up as well. If, for some reason, you don’t think these numbers helped the economy, then I guess you’re telling us that the kind of trickle-down economics espoused by RomneyCorp isn’t working, right?
Add to this the fact that we’re well out of the quagmire that The President Who Must Not Be Named created in Iraq, and are on our way out of the morass in Afghanistan. I’d have to say that the people fighting those wars, and their families, are better off.
Of course, since Mitt Romney doesn’t seem to think those soldiers and their families are “important” enough to be mentioned in his convention speech (according to a campaign spokesman), I suppose that doesn’t count to him.

As for the president’s own speech, it concentrated on shared sacrifice and hard work rather than soaring “yes we can” rhetoric. It was a reminder that we’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go, and that “we” means all of us.
Mitt Romney, on the other hand, blew smoke about how he was going to create “12 million jobs” (a figure which some economic forecasters say is going to happen no matter who’s president) but offered no forecast of how he’s going to do it, other than pursuing the same policies that were in place when the economy tanked.
He says he’s going to cut taxes and still balance the budget by closing loopholes, which he refuses to identify. He’s already proven he’ll say anything to get elected. Meanwhile, Barack Obama talks to us like we’re grown-ups. And that’s one of the many reasons I’m voting for him.